Sukhothai, Thailand’s very first capital founded in the 13th century, is definitely one of the highlights of any visit to this country. Although the new part of the city doesn’t offer much of interest to the average visitor, it’s the 45 square-kilometres of incredible ruins that make a trip here worthwhile.
Sukhothai Historical Park contains the remains of 21 ancient temples, stupas and other buildings in various states of romantic decay. A good place to get acquainted with this massive complex is Ramkhamhaeng National Museum, which has a fantastic collection of artefacts and information from the 700 year old Sukhothai Kingdom.
Attractions & Activities
Put on your best Indiana Jones outfit and spend a day (or three) poking around the stunning ruins of Thailand’s first capital city. There are towering chedis, stupas and temples galore…more
Choose from a modern resort full of tour groups or a more private guesthouse in the sleepy town centre. We offer readers the very best prices through our online booking partners Agoda…more
Sukhothai guide – Thailand’s first capital city
Visitors typically appreciate the bulk of Sukhothai’s tourist sights by walking or cycling around the main park, with its pretty ponds and lakes, manicured lawns and, of course, multiple ruins. Highlights include Wat Mahatat with its giant chedi, Wat Si Sawai with its Khmer-style prang and Wat Sa Si, famously reflected in its pond. Outside of the main complex you will find Wat Si Chum which is unmistakable for its Giant Buddha.
An additional 70 ancient sites can be found within five kilometres of Sukhothai, providing as much ruin-hunting as you please. A great way to explore the area is by bicycle, either on your own or with one of the local tours. Visitors who come in November may be able to witness the famous Loy Kratong festival, which is the highlight of the annual calendar in Sukhothai.
While in the area it’s worthwhile planning an extra day to make a side trip to Sri Satchanalai Historic Park, 50kms north. This remarkably well preserved site is less visited but in some ways nicer and as big as Sukhothai. It’s located on the banks of the Yom River, along with the ruins of Chaliang and is where the famous ancient Sawankholok pottery was produced.
Most of the lodging, dining and entertainment is located within the new city area, around 450kms north of Bangkok. There are plenty of reasonably-priced options when it comes to sleeping as well as handful of nice resorts.
Sukhothai’s main municipal market offers the best cultural interaction in town, and will give you something to do when you aren’t exploring the ruins. But the real attraction in Sukhothai is the old city ruins, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of Thailand’s undisputed gems.